Posted by Steve Lettau on Sep 27, 2018

Following fire, and loss of their dog, the Erlauers are out to educate others

By Lisa Curtis News Graphic August 28, 2018

CEDARBURG — Ann Erlauer is beyond angry.

If there was a recall on dehumidifiers, she certainly hadn’t heard about it.

Instead, the Cedarburg woman learned the hard way that some dozen brands of the appliances pose a fire hazard because of a faulty part. 

Ann and her husband, James Erlauer, lost their beloved dog Bubba last week when their dehumidifier caught fire, spreading thick back smoke throughout their Spruce Avenue home.

James Erlauer had come home in the early afternoon Tuesday, and as he opened the side door to his garage, he was met with a blast of smoke.

“He opened the door and it just overtook him,” Ann Erlauer said.

In subsequent conversations with their insurance company’s investigator, Ann Erlauer learned that he has investigated hundreds of similar fires, three of them last week alone. He told her it was the first one he had investigated in which a dog was killed.

The couple, who have three grown children, have suddenly become advocates and educators on a topic that they knew nothing about only days ago. They are exploring their legal options, Ann Erlauer said, and will tell anyone who will listen to check their own appliances.

“Bubba’s ready to fight so other families can stay safe,” said the couple’s daughter, Sophie.

She has started pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitte under @BubbaBarks-Back.

Erlauer said she also wants people to know that there are smoke detectors on the market that will send a text to a homeowner if they go off.

“If we had this, we could have saved our dog and possibly much of the damage,' she said.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the company Gree initiated the recall in September 2013, updated it in October 2013 and expanded it in January 2014. They re-announced the recall in late November 2016 following 450 fires and $19 million in property damage across the country.

About 2.5 million dehumidifiers were sold nationwide, the commission said.

Grafton Fire Chief Bill Rice said his department responded to a dehumidifier fire last year. He said it is striking the damage that they can do.

“It produces an enormous amount of black soot and smoke,” said Rice, who discovered that his own dehumidifier was recalled. “Structurally these houses survive, but everything in the house is covered in black soot. It's an extensive cleanup operation.”

Sophie Erlauer has seen evidence of that first-hand.

“Our house looks fine from the outside, but inside its almost a total loss,” she said.

The brand names for the recalled dehumidifiers are:

  • Danby
  • De’Longhi
  • Fedders
  • Fellini
  • Frigidaire
  • GE
  • Gree
  • Kenmore
  • Norpole
  • Premiere
  • Seabreeze
  • SoleusAir

SuperClima Consumers can also call Gree toll-free at 866-853-2802 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Monday through Friday or go online at greedehumidifierrecall. com and click on Recall for more information.